Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Blast/Past/Aghast/At Last

The summer after my freshman year of college, I commuted by bus to a government job in Greenbelt, Maryland. One day, a man I'd seen a number of times on the bus came up to me with photocopies of charcoal pictures he'd sketched of me. I asked him if he would sign them, and the man said that he would only sign originals. He then ripped the sketches out of his note-pad, signed them, gave them to me, and took back the photocopies. As it turned out, the man wasn't a total stranger, but the ex-boyfriend of one of my mother's coworkers. I don't remember his first name, but he signed his last name, "Kamp" on the sketches, so I'd like to give him full-credit for his own sketches.

These sketches, along with a host of other objects, arrived in a large box this afternoon.What struck me most about the portraits was not so much that they looked like me then, but how I would look ten years later.

As I looked through ancient journals, juvenalia printed out on an actual typewriter, and other potentially embarrassing things, I expected to reel in disgust. I didn't. What a relief! Of course, the poems were filled with murky, overblown images inspired in equal parts by my adolescent struggles and Simon LeBon's lyrics. (Does this sound familiar, O Goddess of Clarity?!) However, I can read the poems and remember what I was thinking at the time I wrote them. For example, I submitted a poem to Cricket Magazine. The subject matter was supposed to be about clouds. This is the poem I sent:

Beneath the clouds of midnight
The gale of dream blizzards blow
Sweeping icy splinters of hate into the hearts of mortal men
Chilling the bare hope that eternity exists
Where wishes live between the songs of lemon trees
Ever convicted to lie in wait for the rebirth of the moon’s daughter
Shadowed silhouettes dance on blades of grass
Stained with the blood of a thousand years hence
One hundred whispers sway in the breeze as one:
“Pass by quickly, child, pass by quickly.”
But I will never be a child again.
--Alkelda the Gloomy, age 13, 1985

Nevermind that nonsense about "songs of lemon trees"-- that was classic Simon LeBon obscurity. I stuck in the "clouds" so that the poem would technically be eligible for the contest. My mother gently pointed out that this poem was probably not what the editors had in mind when they asked for "clouds," but I was undeterred. I wanted to be treated as an adult. I had no idea what that concept truly entailed, I equated innocence with naivete, and I wanted to stop being treated like a child. I wanted my writing to have the depth of a grownup's.

Ironically, it was around the time of my brother's death that I finally got it: there is enough world sorrow. There is more than enough pain. No matter what we do, we will always have struggles. Therefore, why not encourage joy? Why not remind you of the times you laughed? Why not make you laugh again?


Andrew said...


Fridaysweb said...

Aww, Honey. The sketches are lovely. How fabulous that someone would do such a wonderful thing. Of course, we all know you're worth it.

LeBon - that's...umm..Duran Duran? Ahh, the 80's. How I miss them. Yep, my kids think I'm a geek but my oldest thinks one of the redheaded brothers from DD (can't remember his name) is "hawt" and my youngest thinks George Michael is "hawt". They're so young and naive.

p.s. Love the ornament. I'm printing it, along with Brad's as soon as I refill my depleted paper supply.

Lone Star Ma said...

I see in that very not-Cricket poem little pieces of the imagery-girl that wrote poems that were so beautiful in your later adolescence...curlews and violet stars and all...

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks! By the way, I fixed the post that Simon LeBon would link directly to DD's website. So, one of the guys is a redhead now, eh? Did you know that the three "Taylor" musicians are not related to each other at all? I think they should have run with the myth, a la Ramones, but hey, it's not my band,

Lone Star Ma-- I came across those "Violet star" poems in the sheaf of papers yesterday. I'm not sure what I think of them now, but I know I was definitely thinking of supernovas. Thank you for your vote of confidence!

I'm glad I made you giggle, but I'm going for the full belly-laugh next time.

HitManJ said...

Ur Effen hawt. ;) Sorry.

How nice that a stranger actually saw you enough to sketch you. I can barely remember my own face sometimes.

Your blog is like a sip of refreshing spring water on a hot summer's day. I always feel just lovely after my time here.

Lone Star Ma said...

You were only 15. They were amazing for 15(: I think I can still quote parts of them.

lori said...

You bet it sounds familiar! After reading the line about "Shadowed silhouettes..." I now have "Shadows Are on Your Side" in my head. Cool! Haven't heard that one in a while. :)

Once you get through the LeBonnyness, you have that lovely ending couplet. Nothing to reel in disgust about at all!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Hitman J--
Thanks! I read your compliments aloud to Bede, and he said, "He knows you're taken, right?" Sure, I said, it says so right there in the profile: librarian, storyteller and parent. "No no," he said, "You need to write librarian, storyteller and TAKEN." I was very much amused.

I have been offline all day, so I need to check out the blogs, including Word Verifier: The Gathering.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I thought, "Hmm, I don't think I know Shadows are on Your Side, but it sure sounds like something that would be on the Seven and the Ragged Tiger soundtrack." I had to go to iTunes to refresh my memory. At this point, I only have the Decade album on cd, but I'm tempted to get some of the other songs I really liked. I don't care what my mom says (she hated Duran Duran, just hated them. She was so relieved when I got into heavy metal.), New Religion is a good song. Thanks for seeing through the "LeBonnyness!"